As mine companies made their way deeper into the Keweenaw interior they found themselves separated from Copper Harbor by a series of rugged ridge-lines, making transportation of their copper ore and supplies to the town difficult if not impossible. The most remote mines were those owned by the Mendota Mining Company, who remedied the transportation situation by building its own port on a nearby lake known as Lac La Belle. The lake was connected to Lake Superior by a wide navigable river, and made the perfect place to built both a smelter and stamp mill. The town of Lac La Belle was born.
Over the years the Mendota’s holdings changed names several times, falling under the control of both the Conglomerate and the Keweenaw Copper mining companies. In the 1860’s yet another attempt was made on the old Mendota properties, this time preceded by a generous investment in infrastructure including the regions first steam powered stamp mill. In 1867 the river out to Lake Superior was also improved, with the construction of a man-made channel cut straight through the river sloughs out to the lake. But as happened many times before, the new mine could not produce enough copper to make a sustainable profit, The mine, mill, and smelter closed for good just a few years after the completion of the canal.